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Spending New Year's Week in New York City

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Spending New Year's Week in New York City

MY REVIEW is limited to the highlights of our trip to NYC December 29, 2012 through January 4, 2013. For continually updated information by other reviewers, search TripAdvisor or visit the venues’ websites.

NEW YEAR'S EVE IN TIMES SQUARE. Although this was a family vacation, my husband and I also wanted to celebrate our anniversary by ringing in the New Year in Times Square – an event we had only seen on TV. Watching in person as the New Year’s Eve ball dropped was an almost indescribable experience: exciting and yet surreal. By far the most helpful, thorough review for this NYE event is by AusPaul84 at tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60763-i5-k4136628… Another reviewer with an extraordinary amount of knowledge is NYWhiz at www.tripadvisor.com/members-forums/nywhiz Both reviewers are spot-on with advice and valuable tips. Also, this site’s staff has compiled a lot of good general info about NYC: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60763-i5-k1948627… Regardless of your choice of venue for NYE, I offer some advice: wear VERY comfortable shoes through the streets because more and more streets get blocked off throughout the day and evening of NYE. All of the detours and re-routing mean you’ll walk twice as long to get half the distance. When you get to your NYE destination, you can take off your walking shoes and slip on your “party shoes” that you brought in a bag. When your celebration is over, you can put your comfy shoes back on. You’ll greatly appreciate them when you’re walking back to the hotel after midnight, because by that time your feet are very tired!

THE OFFICIAL TIME SQUARE SITE is chock-full of information: http://www.timessquarenyc.org

FAMILY ACCOMMODATIONS: This was my most challenging, time-consuming research. I finally found 3 hotels that met our needs as to location (near Times Square) and # of people (5). Some hotels farther away were less costly, but staying near Times Square meant we could walk to most places. We did use the subway and taxis some, but our hotel’s close proximity to sights, events, and restaurants saved time. I had originally reserved a family suite at the Salisbury for 5 nights. http://www.nycsalisbury.com. Later we decided to add an extra day to our trip, but the Salisbury wasn’t available for that extra night, so we spent the 1st night in a family suite at the Edison (it can sleep up to 6). http://www.edisonhotelnyc.com I know it’s not an ideal situation to change hotels after one night, but they’re not far apart and it worked out fine (do what you gotta do.) At the Salisbury, an excellent breakfast buffet was available for $9 per person; the Edison didn’t offer that. Both hotels were just okay (one reviewer described them as “tired”), but they were fine for us – very clean and no history of bedbugs (yes, I did an Internet search on NYC hotels with a history of bedbugs). We preferred the Salisbury slightly over the Edison. As for the 3rd hotel I found – the Flatotel – I don’t know anything about it except it has a suite that will sleep up to 6. http://flatotel.com I suggest reading what NYWhiz has to say about other family accommodations inside and outside the Times Square area (see my 1st paragraph).

RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR WITH THE ROCKETTES: radiocitychristmas.com/newyork/tickets.html# This show lived up to its name, and then some! It truly was spectacular. We attended the final Rockettes performance of 2012 at 7:00 p.m., Sunday, December 30th. It lasted 90 minutes and had no intermission. You can get tickets on the website, in person (at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden or The Beacon Theatre Box Offices), by phone 866-858-0007, or at a Ticketmaster outlet. I got ours on-line. You can find out more FAQs at http://www.radiocity.com/faq.html.

THE NEW YORK CITY SKYLINE FROM THE TOP OF ROCKEFELLER CENTER: www.topoftherocknyc.com NYC’s skyline is rated the #1 NYC attraction by a lot of reviewers here, many of whom believe that sunset is the best time to view it. I agree. The top floors are called “Top of the Rock”. To avoid lines, get tickets in advance. I bought 2 adult tickets ($25 each) on-line when we were already in NYC. The ticket area took my confirmation # and printed our tickets, which we then took to the entrance. Since we wanted to be there at sunset, I chose our entry time by looking at this site: timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html… I got entry tickets for 3:45 p.m. on January 3rd. Turns out, it was just perfect for not feeling rushed, seeing three 4-minute films (only available on the way to the top, not on the way down), walking around the top 3 floors, then watching twilight and the sunset. I LOVED watching the city lights come on slowly – in the buildings, on the bridges, in Central Park, and even the red and white streams of headlights and taillights – all so beautiful. We almost skipped the 3 little films, but are glad we didn’t. Top of the Rock is open 8:00 a.m. to midnight, 7 days a week, 365 days a year despite weather conditions. They have a good FAQs page at http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/visitor/faq/ Phone #s are 212-698-2000 or 1-877-NYC-ROCK (877-692-7625).

ROCKEFELLER CENTER ICE SKATING: www.therinkatrockcenter.com We had a blast! This was peak season, and the wait to get on the ice was 2 to 3 hours. But months earlier I had bought (on-line) our time-specific “Igloo” fast passes (officially called VIP Express Skating at the Igloo). Got right in, no wait. Session was 90 minutes. 150 people at a time are allowed on the ice. You can get reservations on-line or call 212-332-7654; for VIP reservations, 212-332-7605.

BROADWAY AND OFF-BROADWAY SHOWS: timessquarenyc.org/broadway/…index.aspx Who goes to New York and doesn’t see a show? GO! We saw Jersey Boys (magnificent!) but there are so many good ones, just take your pick!

PERFECT ACTIVITY FOR CELEBRATING OUR ANNIVERSARY: My husband really likes to cook, so as a surprise anniversary gift, I arranged a private 3-hour session with the chef at Camaje. HE LOVED IT! The chef (Abby) was just amazing. She let me schedule a time and date that was convenient for us. She also personalized the session by working with me ahead of time on a specific menu and ingredients. I found Camaje by doing an Internet search on “activities in New York City related to cooking”. We highly recommend Abby and Camaje. The contact information is http://camaje.com 212-673-8184.

FAMILY PORTRAITS: To commemorate this special trip, we contacted Photo Trek Tours to take our family photos because it has so many great reviews on this site tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d1553… Due to time constraints we didn’t take the official tour – only went to Central Park for the pics (just wish we hadn’t walked so far into the Park since we had on nice clothes and shoes). Marc emailed our pics later that same day, but you can request a CD which he’ll deliver to your hotel. I arranged the session and paid for it on-line. http://www.phototrektours.com

YANKEE STADIUM TOUR: …mlb.com/nyy/…classic The “Classic” (basic) tour was fun and interesting. Our family has been to 21 baseball stadiums, including the old Yankee one, so this was a must-do for us. You can get tickets at any Yankees Clubhouse store in NYC or Yankee Stadium ticket windows or phone 877-469-9849. I got ours on-line before the trip.

911 MEMORIAL: Must get timed tickets ahead of time (whether before your trip or during). …911memorial.org/WebStore/…

ST. PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL: There is sightseeing daily 6:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. They give free tours Monday through Friday. 212-355-2749 ext. 829. I would think it’s best to book ahead, but walk-ins are allowed on certain dates and times: saintpatrickscathedral.org/visit_tours.php We didn’t take the tour, but we did go to the Noon Mass on New Year’s Day. While planning our trip, I called and was told no tickets or reservations were necessary for that particular service. Some Easter and Christmas Eve services require pre-ordered tickets, but they’re free. Those tickets supposedly go fast, often months ahead of the date. Check the website for times: www.saintpatrickscathedral.org/masses.php – and be aware that the times often change during holidays and holy days.

OUR MUSEUM VISIT: http://www.moma.org/ We went to the Museum of Modern Art (“MoMA”). Contemporary art isn’t really my cup of tea, but my family thought it was wonderful. And the staff was top-notch – happy, helpful, and went out of their way for the visitors. For what it’s worth, another tourist said she thought the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art (“ Met Museum”) was fantastic. http://www.metmuseum.org/

NEGATIVE COMMENTS FROM SOME TRIP ADVISOR USERS? Yes, even the naysayers responding to reviews by AusPaul84 and others, offer some valid tidbits of “food-for-thought.” The ones with sour, negative, or off-putting comments didn’t cause me to change any plans, although I did feel a bit more informed as to some potential drawbacks – and perhaps a little less likely to be disappointed.

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1. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

Great review! Thanks for posting! The Camaje session sounds wonderful!

jamesville ny
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2. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

Great TR, excellent planning.

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3. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

Thanks for the great trip report. It was really helpful.

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4. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

Great recap! Where did you eat?

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5. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

nywhiz asked “Where did you eat?”

Café Edison

228 West 47th Street (between 8th Avenue and Broadway)

(212) 840-5000, ext. 7846 (the main number is the hotel)

Since we stayed our first night at the Edison Hotel, we ate breakfast at the attached cafe (which also has a sidewalk entrance). I thought the food was fairly bland. Even for a café, it was extraordinarily noisy – people, dishes, waiters, the kitchen. We could barely hear each other talking. CASH only – no credit cards. And depending on your waiter, the amount of the bill, and the number in your group, gratuity can be included in the bill, so watch your tipping. When we were finished eating and ready to go, it took about 10 minutes to get the waiter to bring our bill. Can't recommend it.

Camaje Bistro

85 MacDougal St New York, NY 10012

(212) 673-8184


Tiny café, mouth-watering food. Two of us ate there for lunch. The chef will also schedule individual or group cooking lessons. We did that too, and really enjoyed it. We recommend it.

McGee’s Pub

240 West 55th Street

(212) 957-3536


It's small, narrow and uninteresting. Four members of our family thought the food was okay. I thought mine tasted terrible and didn't finish it (sorry, don’t remember what I ordered). Supposedly, McGee’s was the model for the pub on “How I Met Your Mother” (TV series), but we don’t think the two pubs have any similarity. A poster of the HIMYM cast is at the entrance and other HIMYM photos appear on the walls throughout. The wait service was poor. Everything else was mediocre – food, atmosphere, interior & exterior. Can't recommend it, especially with so many good pubs in NYC.


359 Bleecker Street

(212) 929-8727


August has a very nice ambiance. The food was wonderful. The service was very good. There were a sufficient number of choices on the dinner and drink menus, but not a real wide variety. Their signature mixed drinks are delicious. Two of our family members ate dinner there in March 2012. All 5 of us ate there in January 2013. We each highly recommend it.

One if by Land, Two if by Sea

17 Barrow Street

(212) 255-8649


It's small, elegant, and quiet. Beautiful presentation of the food. Lovely ambiance. Our waiter was PERFECT (John has been there for years). He wasn't an overbearing nuisance (didn't top off our water every couple minutes and didn't constantly interrupt to ask if we needed anything, etc.) He gave us privacy, yet was attentive and always kept an eye out if we needed something. And when we did, he took care of it immediately. Our table was one of 4 tables in a row and we thought they were a little bit too close together – for awhile we were a little bothered by hearing the next table's conversation. If that would also bother you, then consider asking for a table in a quieter, somewhat roomier part of the restaurant. It’s definitely a restaurant worth going to. We highly recommend it.

The View Restaurant

1535 Broadway

(212) 704-8900


We thought the food was delicious, although apparently the locals and some other travelers disagree. That said, we didn’t go there for the food. We went there for the lovely, 360 revolving view of NYC at night. We enjoyed eating at a posh-looking restaurant with such a terrific view, and we thought the 3-course, $79 prix-fixe per person dinner was reasonable. We went after seeing a Broadway musical – but there is also a pre-theater, 2-course pre-fixe menu for $67, available only through 6:30 p.m. We didn’t go to the View Lounge (one floor up), but just so you’ll know, it serves cocktails and a dinner buffet until late evening. All five of us give it an enthusiastic "thumbs up".

The Little Owl

90 Bedford Street (at Bedford and Grove)

(212) 741-4695


Three of us ate there for dinner. Tiny place, cozy, quaint. Great staff. Outstanding food. We highly recommend it. Just so you’ll know, they also serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Fun fact: it’s located right where the "Central Perk" coffeehouse was in the TV series "Friends" -- on the ground floor of the building where the "Friends" apartments were for 10 years.

Bubba Gump Restaurant

1501 Broadway

(212) 391-7100


I normally would not have eaten at a national chain in New York City because (1) chains typically offer mediocre food, and (2) NYC has many great places to eat with truly great food, so why settle for less? BUT… we were at BG for the Times Square “ball drop” New Year’s Eve party and the price included “all-you-can-eat”. The food was fine, but "nothing to write home about". (On the other hand, the NYE party was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!)

Other restaurants:

The restaurants above are the ones whose names I can remember. At other times, we just walked around and ate at places that looked interesting -- and we weren't disappointed.

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6. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

Hi thank you for all the detailed info, very helpful. Can you please tell me what restaurant you stayed at for New Years eve? Thanks

Oklahoma City...
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7. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

Bubba Gumps, the last one I described in paragraph 5 above.

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8. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

I meant Post # 5 (at the bottom).

Carlow, Ireland
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9. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

Really great review. Thank you. Doing the same trip this year so lovely to hear what someone else has done.

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10. Re: Spending New Year's Week in New York City

I've spent the past 3 NYE in NYC (never went to times square on NYE, and never even went to times square the past 2 trips). In fact, I avoid it now except to go see a show :)